11/29/1982 at 01:00 AM EST
In the late '70s his Star Wars-style space suits, high-tech helmets and flying-saucer hats made designer Claude Montana the hero of futurist fashion. But recently the avant-gardist has returned to earthly delights. Montana's fall show in Paris last month was a triumph of tradition—sensuous suede suits, elegant linen dresses and frilly evening gowns. "In the past my clothes have been rather dramatic, a dream," concedes the 33-year-old Frenchman. "Now they're getting closer to reality."
His prices, though, remain out-of-this-world: for example, up to $4,500 for a black suede dress. But that didn't seem to concern the fashion arbiters who packed a huge tent in the courtyard outside the Louvre, where Montana's spring collection was previewed. For 37 minutes they watched as some of the world's top models (including U.S. cover girls Iman and Esmé) strutted Montana's spectacular stuff. When the designer himself appeared onstage at the end, the audience leapt to its feet in ardent admiration. Exclaimed New York clothing executive Bernard Ozer, "That's why we like Claude so much. He knows we didn't come all this way to see boring Doris Day dresses."